When 24-year-old Brooklyn resident Will Paybarah was stopped by police for running a red light on his bike on March 20, he was expecting a ticket or possibly just a warning—until he took out his phone. "When I tried to record my interaction with the officer I was arrested... in 10 seconds flat," he tells Gothamist.
The video cuts off when the officer snatches the phone out of his hand, but you can imagine how the whole thing might have gone down.
According to Paybarah, who is a graphic designer, the phone issue quickly escalated what should have been a routine traffic stop to a full-blown arrest: "After those 10 seconds I was pulled off my bike, pushed up against the metal fence, placed in handcuffs and put into the back seat of the car. Other officers came. They joked saying they were going to 'handcuff my bike to the tree.'" Paybarah was charged this week with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and criminal mischief.
It definitely wasn't cool for the cop to harass Paybarah, especially because New Yorkers are absolutely allowed to record police activity, but it turns out that the threat of filming the incident wasn't all the police were worried about, according to Paybarah's statement:
I was told by another officer while in the car that recording a police officer was illegal because people are using iPhones as guns and shooting cops through the camera lens...I told him that I have the right to be recording a cop and he said that there were incidents, specifically in uptown Manhattan where a kid shot a cop with his iPhone. Straight face. Very serious.
"Using iPhones as guns?" A kid who shot a cop with his iPhone? As Gothamist points out, there are phone cases with built-in stun guns but I can't off the top of my head think of any way it's possible to "shoot" someone with an iPhone. Unless he was talking about a game of some sort that lets people pretend they're shooting cops? Or, perhaps, he was speaking metaphorically? [Gothamist via Raw Story]